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A Third of Consumers Who Bought Wearable Devices Have Ditched Them 180

Posted by Soulskill
from the still-waiting-on-a-smart-cummerbund dept.
An anonymous reader writes "The Guardian reports on research (PDF) into the (alleged) wearable device trend: fully one third of customers who bought one stopped using it within six months. Activity trackers fared even worse: half of them are collecting dust. 'For comparison, you wouldn't find people from the early days of the smartphone saying that they'd abandoned their BlackBerry, Treo or Windows Mobile or Symbian phone. They were the early adopters, and they found utility in having email and (sometimes) web pages on the move. The idea of giving them up just wouldn't occur to them. ... So far, there aren't clear signs of quite what it is that smartwatches and fitness trackers are replacing, in the way that [early] music players did. Useful new technology has to replace or simplify some function, ideally; otherwise it has the challenge of persuading us that we need this entirely new thing. Smartphones are simpler ways to collect your email – and also make phone calls and surf the web (and so on). Fitness trackers... let you track your fitness. But given that 41% of people run with their smartphones, you might get by with a movement tracking app instead. The trouble with devices that claim to track your steps is they're so easily hoaxed by waving your arms around.'"

Typo Keyboard For iPhone Faces Sales Ban 205

Posted by samzenpus
from the no-typing-for-you dept.
time_lords_almanac (3527081) writes "BlackBerry is trying to put the kibosh on the Typo, a physical keyboard attachment for iPhone. And they've won the first round, in the form of a sales ban on the attachment. From the article: '"BlackBerry is pleased that its motion for a preliminary injunction against Typo Products LLC was granted. This ruling will help prevent further injury to BlackBerry from Typo's blatant theft of our patented keyboard technology," a spokeswoman for BlackBerry told the news agency in an email.'"

Microsoft Releases Free Edition of OneNote 208

Posted by timothy
from the gratis-not-libre-of-course dept.
yakatz writes "Microsoft announced that OneNote, including the full desktop program, will be free for anyone who wants to use the program. A version of the program for Mac also appeared in the app store yesterday. This means that a native edition of OneNote is available for most platforms (including iPad, iPhone and Android, but not Linux or Blackberry). Microsoft will continue to offer a paid version of OneNote with 'business-oriented' features (including SharePoint support, version history and Outlook integration). The partial rebranding of OneNote also includes some new tools like a program specifically designed to make it easier to take a picture of a whiteboard.
Is this a signal that Microsoft decided that they need to compete with Apple by making their productivity applications free?"
(Over at WineHQ, they're looking for a maintainer for their page on OneNote. Anyone running it on a Free operating system? What are your favorite alternatives that are "libre" free, rather than only gratis?)

Conservation Communities Takes Root Across US 116

Posted by samzenpus
from the if-you-plant-it-they-will-eat dept.
Hugh Pickens DOT Com writes "Kate Murphy reports at the NYT about a growing number of so-called agrihoods, residential developments where a working farm is the central feature, in the same way that other communities may cluster around a golf course, pool or fitness center. At least a dozen projects across the country are thriving, enlisting thousands of home buyers who crave access to open space, verdant fields and fresh food. 'I hear from developers all the time about this,' says Ed McMahon. 'They've figured out that unlike a golf course, which costs millions to build and millions to maintain, they can provide green space that actually earns a profit.'

Agritopia, outside Phoenix, has sixteen acres of certified organic farmland, with row crops (artichokes to zucchini), fruit trees (citrus, nectarine, peach, apple, olive and date) and livestock (chickens and sheep). Fences gripped by grapevines and blackberry bushes separate the farm from the community's 452 single-family homes, each with a wide front porch and sidewalks close enough to encourage conversation. The hub of neighborhood life is a small square overlooking the farm, with a coffeehouse, farm-to-table restaurant and honor-system farm stand. The square is also where residents line up on Wednesday evenings to claim their bulging boxes of just-harvested produce, eggs and honey, which come with a $100-a-month membership in the community-supported agriculture, or CSA, program.

'Wednesday is the highlight of my week,' says Ben Wyffels. 'To be able to walk down the street with my kids and get fresh, healthy food is amazing.' Because the Agritopia farm is self-sustaining, no fees are charged to support it, other than the cost of buying produce at the farm stand or joining the CSA. Agritopia was among the first agrihoods — like Serenbe in Chattahoochee Hills, Ga.; Prairie Crossing in Grayslake, Ill.; South Village in South Burlington, Vt.; and Hidden Springs in Boise, Idaho. 'The interest is so great, we're kind of terrified trying to catch up with all the calls,' says Quint Redmond adding that in addition to developers, he hears from homeowners' associations and golf course operators who want to transform their costly-to-maintain green spaces into revenue-generating farms. Driving the demand, Redmond says, are the local-food movement and the aspirations of many Americans to be gentlemen (or gentlewomen) farmers. 'Everybody wants to be Thomas Jefferson these days.'"
The city of Detroit is planning a 26.9-acre urban farm project on one of its vacant high school properties. Produce from the project will be included in meals for students in the district and later to the larger community.
Operating Systems

Ford Dumping Windows For QNX In New Vehicles 314

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the back-to-the-classics dept.
innocent_white_lamb writes "Ford has announced that their in-vehicle technology called Sync will be based on Blackberry's QNX operating system and will no longer use Microsoft Windows. My own 2013 Ford Escape has the Windows-based Sync system. I wonder if they will issue an update to change it to QNX." Anonymous sources inside Ford cited reliability problems with Windows and lower licensing costs for the switch to the classic realtime OS.

Swedish Police Use WhatsApp For Surveillance Ops, Share Intel With Civilians 37

Posted by Soulskill
from the what-happens-in-CopSpace-stays-in-CopSpace dept.
New submitter TheP4st writes "A group of Swedish police officers thought it would be a good idea to use WhatsApp as a work tool for surveillance operations. The officer that set up their chat group mistyped one of the phone numbers to mistakenly include a civilian IT teacher. Once the teacher informed authorities about the mistake, it took more than 24 hours before he stopped receiving sensitive case information, which included criminal records, passport photos, and communications between surveillance teams tailing suspects. When confronted by Computer Sweden (Google translation of Swedish original), the officer responsible for setting up the group said, 'I know this server is not located in Sweden and that one cannot share every kind of information.' The only mobile chat medium approved for sensitive information is BlackBerry, and this initiative by a small group of officers happened because they do not have access to BlackBerry handsets."

Wozniak To Apple: Consider Building an Android Phone 249

Posted by samzenpus
from the building-with-the-enemy dept.
snydeq writes "Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak has some advice for Apple CEO Tim Cook: consider offering a phone based on the rival Google Android platform. Speaking at the Apps World conference in San Francisco, Wozniak made the suggestion of an Apple Android device when responding to a question about the fate of the faltering BlackBerry platform, saying that BlackBerry should have built an Android phone, and that Apple could do so, too. 'BlackBerry's very sad for me,' Wozniak lamented. 'I think it's probably too late now' for an Android-based BlackBerry phone. Apple, Woz said, has had some lucky victories in the marketplace in the past decade, and BlackBerry's demise may provide a cautionary tale: 'There's nothing to keep Apple out of the Android market as a secondary phone market.'"
The Courts

BlackBerry Sues iPhone Keyboard Maker Typo 226

Posted by samzenpus
from the everyone-sue-everyone dept.
judgecorp writes "Typo Products, which makes a physical keyboard for the iPhone 5 and 5S is being sued by BlackBerry. The firm — co-founded by media personality Ryan Seacrest — provides an iPhone case which includes a physical keyboard, whose keys are sculpted very like those of a classic BlackBerry phone. 'From the beginning, BlackBerry has always focused on offering an exceptional typing experience that combines a great design with ergonomic excellence. We are flattered by the desire to graft our keyboard onto other smartphones, but we will not tolerate such activity without fair compensation for using our intellectual property and our technological innovations,' said Steve Zipperstein, BlackBerry’s General Counsel and Chief Legal Officer."

The Year's Dumbest Moments in Tech 96

Posted by timothy
from the you-mean-outside-my-house-right? dept.
harrymcc writes "Over at, I rounded up the year's dumbest moments in technology. Yes, the launch of is included, as are Edward Snowden's revelations. But so are a bunch of people embarrassing themselves on Twitter, both BlackBerry and Lenovo hiring celebrities to (supposedly) design products, the release of glitchy products ranging from OS X 10.9 Mavericks to the new Yahoo Mail, and much more." I can't think of anything dumber than the NSA's claims that metadata isn't data.

The Biggest Tech Mishap of 2013? 162

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the anything-involving-a-marketing-department dept.
Nerval's Lobster writes "Some high-profile tech initiatives really crashed-and-burned this year. Did BlackBerry executives really think that BlackBerry 10 would spark a miraculous turnaround, or were they simply going through the motions of promoting it? That's the key question as BlackBerry 10 devices fail to sell. Then there's Facebook's misbegotten attempt at 'skinning' the Android OS with its Home app. Or maybe counts as 2013's biggest debacle, with its repeated crashes and glitches and inability to carry out core functions. What do you think was the biggest software or hardware (or both) mishap of the past twelve months?"

Winners and Losers In the World of Interfaces: 2013 In Review 116

Posted by timothy
from the more-than-just-a-pretty-picture dept.
An anonymous reader writes "A review of the top UX successes and failures of 2013 covers hot topics ranging from Snapchat to the Nest thermostat to David Pogue's departure from the New York Times. The author begins: 'In terms of UX milestones and missteps, 2013 failed to produce industry-altering innovations like 2007 with the introduction of the first iPhone or 2012 with the demise of Blackberry. Yet on another level, UX design in 2013 gave us a glimpse at the rapidly broadening definition of UX design as a structural concept and its role in the future of new media device design, content creation and even the status of product reviews created by leading tech journalists. In a critical way, I personally find this more interesting than blockbuster introductions that alter the technology landscape.'"

Google Sues Consortium Backed By Apple and Microsoft to Protect Android 150

Posted by Soulskill
from the tis-the-season dept.
A couple months ago, Rockstar, a patent-holding consortium backed by Apple, Microsoft, Sony, Blackberry, and others launched a barrage of infringement suits against Google and the makers of Android devices. Google has now launched a counteroffensive, seeking protection from Rockstar's patent trolling. The complaint (PDF) says, "Rockstar produces no products and practices no patents. Instead, Rockstar employs a staff of engineers in Ontario, Canada, who examine other companies’ successful products to find anything that Rockstar might use to demand and extract licenses to its patents under threat of litigation." Google's filing also accuses Rockstar of interfering with their business practices by contacting other companies and trying to convince them not to use Android. It asks for a declarative judgment of non-infringement.

BlackBerry Posts $4.4 Billion Loss, Will Outsource To Foxconn 141

Posted by Soulskill
from the but-it'll-be-better-next-quarter-they-promise dept.
iONiUM writes "Today BlackBerry announced a $4.4 billion loss, and a deal with Foxconn to outsource hardware manufacturing. One interesting stat is that 75% of sales were actually older BB7 devices. That said, CEO John Chen says, 'We are very much alive, thank you.' He adds, 'Our "for sale" sign has been taken down and we are here to stay. BlackBerry recently announced it has entered into an agreement to receive a strategic investment from Fairfax Financial and other institutional investors, which represents a vote of confidence in the future of BlackBerry.'"

BlackBerry Launches Twitter-Like BBM Channels 49

Posted by samzenpus
from the try-our-twitter dept.
judgecorp writes "BlackBerry has launched BBM Channels, a rather Twitter-like social network that runs on its BBM messaging system. Meanwhile the company had good news in the developing world: it is the second most popular phone in South Africa. From the article: 'The update is available for BBM users on BlackBerry 10 and some older BlackBerry smartphones, but it is promised that support will be added for iPhone and Android soon, with users of those platforms able to access the web version if they have a confirmed BlackBerry ID email address.'"

BlackBerry's CFO, CMO, and COO Leave Company 159

Posted by samzenpus
from the jumping-ship dept.
cagraham writes "In a pretty major executive shakeup, BlackBerry's Chief Financial Officer, Chief Marketing Officer, and Chief Operating Officer have all left the company. It's unclear whether the changes were brought about by new interim-CEO John Chen in order to facilitate company change, or represent an abandon-ship style exit after BlackBerry's failed bid to go private. The company announced that the CFO position would be filled by current SVP James Yersch, but gave no word on the other vacancies."

Pentagon Readies Contingency Plans Due To BlackBerry's Uncertain Future 44

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the sound-of-nails-being-hammered dept.
cold fjord writes "Nextgov reports, 'The Defense Department, owner of 470,000 BlackBerrys, is distancing itself from the struggling vendor while moving ahead with construction of a department wide app store and a system for securing all mobile devices, including the latest iPhones, iPads, and Samsung smartphones and tablets. Just two months ago, when BlackBerry announced the company would radically curtail commercial sales, Pentagon officials said their business partnership remained unaffected. ... A 2012 strategy to transition personnel from PCs to smartphones and tablets did not favor any one device maker ... "This multi-vendor, device-agnostic approach minimizes the impact of [a] single vendor to our current operations," Pentagon spokesman Lt. Col. Damien Pickart said. Implementation of the strategy centers on a "mobile device management" system to track handhelds that touch military networks so that they do not compromise military information or corrupt Defense systems.'"

Box CEO Talks European Plans, Warns About Meeting BlackBerry's Fate 44

Posted by samzenpus
from the take-heed dept.
mattydread23 writes "Earlier this week in London, Box CEO Aaron Levie gave other enterprise software companies a warning: If they continue to ignore what users want and how they work, they could easily end up like BlackBerry. The shift to cloud computing makes easy for companies to abandon you: 'This shift means the onus more than ever is on the vendor. If we don't stay competitive, if we don't build whatever that that next thing is the user wants to do and build it in as simple a way as they expect from the consumer tools they are using, then we will get swapped out.'"

BlackBerry Abandons Sale Plans, Will Replace CEO 83

Posted by samzenpus
from the on-second-thought dept.
An anonymous reader writes "BlackBerry has abandoned plans to sell the company to Fairfax Holdings after the shareholder could not raise enough money. CEO Thorsten Heins is to leave the company. From the article: 'The company also said that Prem Watsa, chairman and CEO of Fairfax, will be appointed Lead Director and chair of the compensation, nomination and governance committee. Mr. Watsa had resigned from the BlackBerry board earlier this year to explore a bid for the company.'"

Smartphone Sales: Apple Squeezed, Blackberry Squashed, Android 81.3% 390

Posted by samzenpus
from the leader-of-the-pack dept.
mrspoonsi writes "Engadget reports: Smartphone market share for the third you'd imagine, the world is still Android's oyster. Strategy Analytics estimates that the OS has crossed the symbolic 80 percent mark, reaching 81.3 percent of smartphone shipments by the end of September. Not that Google was the only company doing well — Nokia's strong US sales helped Windows Phone grow to 4.1 percent of the market, or nearly double what it had a year ago."

Blackberry BBM App and Suspicious Google Play Ratings 67

Posted by timothy
from the laughed-cried-better-than-cats dept.
sl4shd0rk writes "In what could be an act of desparation of a company in it's death throes, Blackberry has submitted their BBM messaging application to Google Play for download. While this may seem like a logical path for a company on life-support, what wasn't expected is the sheer number of identical 5-star reviews the application has received since being posted. In what appears to be review 'ballot stuffing,' it poses the questions of just how Google is going to handle the subject of manufactured reviews as well as how many other entities have engaged in the same behavior. The same problems have plagued Amazon's review system as well bringing into question the validity of 'crowd based review' and whether it's possible to legitimize this type of system." The linked article points out that the suspicious posts may be the result of ballot stuffing intended to hype one of the unofficial Blackberry apps, rather than RIM's own.

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